Bride of the Century Initial Review/ Preview: Network TV appreciation day

Hello. This is a Korean in America. Today, I will be going over the first two episodes of “Bride of the Century”.

I have been complaining about the poor quality displayed in front of the camera and back of the camera in regard to network Korean drama for a while. While the popularity of Korean dramas has soared in international markets since the 2010s, the quality of Korean dramas has declined since the end of that glorious decade of Korean television, the 2000s.

While this is more of the fault of the creative people behind the camera, the actors tend to get more of the blame because they are in front of the camera. This placement of blame is not warranted since objectively the average acting talent has not changed much in Korean drama over the last few decades.

            Yes, the average quality of acting in Korean dramas is not high.
            But, I would have to say that they get the job done for what Korean dramas require.

To be frank, I actually think there far less terrible actors in Korean dramas now than even there were during the 2000s.

The point is that, under
the loud screams of the fan girls,
the over use of cosmetic products,
the abuse of cosmetic surgery,
and the homogeneity of the Korean drama medium,
we tend to take for granted that things could be worse. The actors could just be bland without any kind of presence or differentiating factors.

The new show, “Bride of the Century”, makes me think that I should give the A-list network Korean drama actors more slack.

First Impressions
 “Bride of the Century” is not a terrible show.

What a thing to say!...
But it is true.

Behind the camera, the craft put into the show is very competent although nothing spectacular. It is very by the book in how the camera is framing the scenes and how the editing is done. I just imagine that old school Korean drama staffs who were replaced by the young hot shots migrated to the cable network “TV Joseon” and made “Bride of the Century”.

The Plot
The plot is rather by the number with the main plot line being about a “look-a-like” taking the place of the “original” after the person skipped town leaving a mess to be handled. This plot line is a very well-worn one.

I have seen adult internet fiction with the same basic plot several times.
Even I have written bad stories with this plot years ago.

More recently, “I Summon You Gold” used this plot line also. Leaving aside my opinion about that disappointment of a show, the reason why this plot line is popular is that there is a lot of fun stuff to be mined from it.  For example, you can do a fish out of water comedy. Also, some doppelganger action is always enjoyable. “I Summon You Gold” needed much more doppelganger action to be good.

Why Supernatural?
What “Bride of the Century” does to put its own stamp on this well-worn plot is to add a supernatural plot to the central plot. It seems that the conglomerate family in which our female protagonist doppelganger inserts herself as a fake fiancé has a supernatural curse.

This is where “Bride of the Century” trips up for the first time. The two plot lines seem to clash tonally. It does not help that the supernatural elements are not well defined or developed during the first two episodes. It is not clear if it is really supernatural or just superstition. What makes the matter worse is that “Bride of the Century” dips its finger into making it a mystery. That is a bad idea when the show seems to not have made its mind over what to do with the supernatural elements.

I personally think that the show does not need supernatural elements.
Keep the plot clean!

We should appreciate A-list Korean drama actors
 If I was to describe what “Bride of the Century” is, my answer would be that it is “a cable show trying to imitate a higher budget network show and doing an ok imitation”. The problem is that it simply does not have the budget. Thus, “Bride of the Century” had to make a choice on how to spend its money. It chose to spend it on the staff behind the camera and not on the cast.

Given what we got, it was not a bad decision.

At the same time, this is the biggest problem for “Bride of the Century”.

Korean dramas are not about characters for the most part. They are about archetypes/caricatures.
On the pages of a Korean drama script, the characters are only superficial bullet point descriptions void of any kind of personality. This is more so for the ‘over the top’ soap operas about conglomerate like “Bride of the Century”. Every character is just a mouth piece for the writer and performs a function and thus everyone feels basically the same on paper.

Think about the many different types of ‘Barbie dolls’ made from the same mold. Even though you put different outfits on them and change the dye that goes into their artificial hair, they are just basically the same plastic dolls.

What makes these Korean dramas work is basically the actors although it is not about their acting skill per se.

A or B-list Korean drama actors are not A or B-list because of their acting skills. They are A-list because they have an image and screen personality to animate characters who are basically plastic dolls on paper.

This is what differentiates A or B-list Korean drama actors from the C-list actors in the cast of “Bride of the Century”. A lot of cable Korean drama use D-list actors who you have never seen and who really should never be seen on HD television. For example, the cast of ”Cheo Yong” on OCN is filled with D-list actors and only one B/C-list actor with questionable acting skills. It is terrible to watch.

Bride of the Century” is filled with C-list actors which mean that they have acting skills but no screen personality. The consequence of this is that all the characters blur together. It is serious to the degree that the plot is sometimes difficult to follow because I have no idea who is who and I am a Korean. I did not catch that this show was about doppelganger action until the second episode because I did not notice that the lead actress was playing two roles.

It was not because she was a chameleon in her portrayal of her characters.

Since the age of cosmetic surgery boom, there have been jokes of people with difficulties in differentiating between actresses. I am also guilty of this as, if I don’t pay attention, I cannot pick out who is who in a Korean girl band.

Well at least I am not alone.

It does not help that “Bride of the Century” is very fast paced in its journey from plot point to plot point.

At the end
So what do I like?

The show is overall ok once you understand what the H**l is going on which may take some time. The plot is predictable and by the numbers which, in this case, is a god send. Acting wise, no one is obviously terrible although the male characters are blander than the female characters in general.

I still sometimes confuse the male characters.

The pacing is energetic and the script is not terrible albeit by the numbers. Compared to recent shows like “Cheo Yong” or “Emergency couple”, “Bride of the Century” is better in almost every way as it is at least competent.

Bride of the Century” is a show that made me appreciate A-list actors with their barely adequate acting skills and all. 

I give it a B-.

 I will try another 2 episodes before I drop the show for other show which has characters I can differentiate between.  

Streaming Link: Good Drama net


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